Change Your Habits, Change Your Life
What It Takes To Change Your Life After 40
These 5 readers prove that change can happen at any age, regardless of the number on the cake. After all, what your age means is ultimately defined by one person—you.
BJ Dowlen, 48
Photo by The Morrisons
"I've always had a gift for relieving pain. When I was a kid, my family members would say, 'Ouch! My neck! Send BJ over,' and I'd work out whatever was bothering them. As an adult I worked in a corporate environment and felt satisfaction at the end of the day, but not joy. So I left to start my own sports-performance business full-time at age 47. People told me I was crazy to give up job security and take a leap, and it's true that I had some doubts about whether I could do it. But the happiness I get from helping people get out of pain keeps me going. At night, I'm so full of anticipation for the next day, I can hardly sleep."
MORE:The 5 Rules Of Reinventing Your Life At Any Age
Lisa Lajoie, 53
Photo by Julie Bidwell
"After my son said he didn't think I could learn how to snowboard, I made up my mind to try. The first season, I went back and forth between skiing and snowboarding. Then a friend of mine said in order to get better, I should dream about the sport during the off-season. So that summer, I dreamed many nights about snow-boarding. By the time the first snow fell, it came more naturally, and I fell in love. Last winter, I was dealing with challenges at home, so I took a seasonal position teaching lessons. It was and still is my way of disconnecting and making time for myself."
MORE: How Actress Annabelle Gurwitch Is Aging With A Vengeance
Jennifer Babbitt, 33
Having to rely only on herself for encouragement didn't stop reader Jennifer Babbitt from losing 70 pounds 8 years ago-and keeping it off ever since. Photo by Dan Root
"In my early 20s, I started gaining weight gradually and didn't realize it until I got pregnant and the doctor told me I was overweight. After my son was born, I was 205 pounds, but I wanted to be able to keep up with him and set a good example. I poured myself into learning about nutrition and fitness and started experimenting with my habits. I was 25, and my friends didn't understand this huge lifestyle change. The lack of support was discouraging, but I kept going because I knew the outcome was going to be so positive, and I thought my success might inspire the people around me to make healthy changes too. I lost 70 pounds and have kept it off for 8 years.
Nancy Gottesman, 57
The Galley is the oldest restaurant in Santa Monica—and that suits Nancy just fine.Photo by Leela Cyd
"When my son left for his freshman year at college, I felt a strange sense of relief. After a 2-decade blur of child rearing and freelance writing, my life was suddenly, soothingly quiet. I quickly decided that waking up every morning to looming deadlines wasn't the way I wanted to live anymore. In my early 20s, I—like everyone else—had waited tables. I loved the late nights and the camaraderie with the other waitresses, so when I noticed a job listed at a local restaurant, I jumped at it. To say my first month was demanding would be an understatement. Thirty-five years of sitting behind a computer had in no way prepared this aging body, with its trick knee and chronic tennis elbow, for this: I started racing around a jam-packed restaurant for a living. Five grueling months later, my body has adjusted to the physicality of the job, the late nights, and the crazy, sporadic mealtimes—I look and feel better than I have in a long time. I have no idea how long I'll waitress; I just know that I'll keep trying to reinvent myself. Who cares if I fail? At midlife, you realize that after you wake up with a pulse, the rest of the day is gravy." (Read more about Nancy's bold reinvention here.)
Jennifer Brown, 60
Photo by The Morrisons
"As a kid, I wanted to be a priest. But at the time, women became nuns, so instead I went into social work with the New York City Board of Education. Even years later, though, when I was in my late 40s, there was this itch that I couldn't scratch. My husband told me I needed to answer my call to the ministry, and I knew he was right. I went to seminary, and it was one of the happiest times of my life.
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